First Person

The Boy from the Carpool

Kristen Phillips ’20

My mom’s two favorite things in the world: 
• St. Lawrence University, 
• And the story I’m about to tell. 

The story starts with my mom, a junior at St. Lawrence University in 1984, rushing across the Quad and running late to make it to her carpool home for Thanksgiving break. After dragging her huge, bulky, obnoxiously stuffed suitcase all the way across campus, she was exhausted. By the time she got to her friend’s car, she was ready for the six-and-a-half-hour car ride home to Massachusetts. My mom, the driver, and his friend piled into the tiny, rusted, about-to-break-down, 15-year-old cherry red Toyota. Her driver then tells them the final boy in the carpool is on his way. Not knowing another person was coming, she scoots over in the tiny backseat clutching her belongings in her lap and waits. 

Five, 10, 15 minutes go by, still no sign of him. Twenty, 25, eventually 30 minutes pass before the boy finally arrives. The boy threw his suitcase in the seat next to her and my mom, thoroughly annoyed, waits eagerly to start the drive. She is tired, frustrated, and over it, but suddenly—intrigued. 

How had she never seen him before? He is so cute. The moment this boy opened his mouth to speak, she knew it was going to be a good ride home. She forgot she was annoyed. They talked. Six-and-a-half-hours later and at her front door, they exchange phone numbers. 

The first couple of nights of Thanksgiving break, they talked on the phone, having endless conversations about everything imaginable. After a few more days of continuous phone calls, my mom’s twin sister invites my mom to go clubbing in Boston, and told her to invite the boy from the carpool. My mom is no fashionista, and she made the worst fashion choice of her life—she wore a wool sweater to the nightclub. A wool sweater. To a nightclub. Her wool sweater went from cute and comfy to itchy and hot. When the boy asked her to dance, she declined, embarrassed, hot, sweaty, and itchy in the wool sweater. The boy laughed and said, “okay, but promise me one day you will dance with me.” 

Sunday rolled around, and it was time to carpool back to St. Lawrence. Naturally, my mom and the boy talked the entire ride, sandwiched together in the back of the tiny car. The boy asked my mom what she had planned to do later that day. My mom casually said she would be in the yellow pipe room, a.k.a. the silent room at ODY, studying for her test. 

Later that night, in the yellow pipe room at ODY, out of the corner of her eye, my mom sees the boy from the carpool walk into the library. It was not important that this was possibly his first foray into the library, her heart started beating faster and faster and her face was blushing redder and redder. He walked right up to where she was sitting, and in the silence of the silent room he sat down next to her, grabbed her sweaty, clammy, nervous palms and said: “You promised me a dance.” 

The boy proceeded to ask her to his fraternity’s formal, and I’m pretty sure my mom did not wear a wool sweater, and I’m pretty sure they danced, and I’m pretty sure things worked out because to this day, I refer to the boy from the carpool as “Dad.” 

Originally shared on April 7, 2017 at the Annual Student StorySLAM competition.

Old cherry red Toyota